Saturday, August 20, 2011

Kansas City...Is it Kansas, or Missouri?

Due to the increased amounts of confusion regarding the division of Kansas City, MO and Kansas City, KS, I decided to break it down for everyone.

For some reason, when guests arrive in Kansas City, they seem to really struggle with the whole two cities/one name dilemma.

For example, last night I worked the Jane's Addiction show in Kansas City, Kansas. Lead singer Perry Farrel stepped out on stage and said, "Where am I again, Missouri? I came to see some titties tonight! Isn't this the "Show Me" state?"

Well, Missouri IS the "Show Me" state in fact, but we were in Kansas.

Although Perry definitely got to see plenty of bare chests, he didn't realize that his careless mistake possibly pissed off quite a few Kansans, who were already on the fence about Jane's Addiction's performance in the first place. In fact, most people left the stadium by the third song of the band's set.

You see, for Kansans and Missourians alike this isn't our first rodeo. We take pride in our sides of the border, for example the MU/KU rivalry. So when people confuse our side with their side as often as they do, it starts to really bug.

Whenever I travel out-of-state and people ask me where I am from, I answer "Kansas City." After first responding, "Why!?" they then reply, "What's it like out in Kansas?"  Being as my family is from the Missouri side, I often find myself teaching others that there are actually two Kansas Cities.

One is in Missouri. One is in Kansas. They are separated by the Missouri River.

The Missouri side (816) claims the cool downtown/city skyline.  It also has most of the fountains.

The Kansas side (913) sits directly across the river on a bluff and tries to compete, but KCMO is definitely cooler. And I'm not just saying that because I live there. Go see for yourself.

Sounds pretty easy right? Well, not so much.

A friend of mine recently came to town working as the announcer during the Street League Skateboarding competition at the Sprint Center in downtown Kansas City, MO.  He emailed me before his visit and wrote, "Hey Amanda, How are you? I will be in Kansas from June 7th- 13th!!" Then, when I spoke with him on the phone prior to his visit, he did it again..."Kansas."

Concerned that he may make the same mistake while making announcements during the competition, I had to set the record straight! I couldn't let my friend embarrass himself publicly - at least not on my watch!

So, I wrote this rant to educate people about the difference between KCK and KCMO and found this wonderful skyline image that captures both cities in one frame.  This is Kansas City, Kansas with Kansas City, Missouri in the background.  

You can see more awesome images of Kansas City here and much thanks to Bill Cobb for permission to use the image in my blog.  When corresponding with him via email, he added his two cents on the topic: 

"I’m from KCMO and hate it when people think I’m from Kansas.  It’s not that KS is a bad place, it’s that people think there is nothing but farms and tornadoes there, so good luck, I have learned to not care anymore, but when I do explain it, I simplify it…

KCMO is the core city where the “big city” (museums, skyscrapers, sports stadiums, museums etc), KCK is a blue collar suburb and then there are a ton of other suburbs on both sides of the state line.  Then they ask why KC is in Missouri and I just tell them that KCMO was a city before Kansas was a state.  If you get any more detailed than that, you lose them."

He also seems frustrated with the chore of explaining the difference, but wait, back up.  KCMO was a city before Kansas was a state?  That's news to me!  So I look to Wiki for answers:

Kansas was granted admission to the union on January 29, 1861. It was the 34th state.

Missouri was granted admission to the union on August 10, 1821. It was the 24th state.

I read on...

"Kansas City was founded in 1838 as the "Town of Kansas" at the confluence of the Missouri and Kansas rivers and was incorporated in its present form in 1850. Situated opposite Kansas City, Kansas, the city was the location of several battles during the Civil War, including the Battle of Westport. The city is well known for its contributions to the musical styles of jazz and blues as well as to cuisine (Kansas City-style barbecue)."

Oh yeah, the barbecue.  Can't pass up the smokey, melt-in-your-mouth ribs, and thick BBQ beef sandwiches made with burnt ends.  Try Oklahoma Joe's.  It may be located in a gas station, but was recently on the Food Network. Even my high pointing pen pal tried it when visiting KC. 

So that's pretty much the basics.  Do you think you got it?  Smart is sexy and KC locals will be so much more impressed when you ask them which side of Kansas City they are from: Missouri or Kansas?



  1. I lived in Wichita, KS in the late 1970's (my spouse was stationed at McConnell AFB) and you make some good observations. We visited Kansas City (MO) several times and enjoyed (names may have changed since then) Country Club Plaza, the Nelson Art Museum, Crown Plaza-and yes, all those fountains. We ate a dinner at Crown Plaza that was one of the most memorable dinners we ever had. Kansas and Missouri are two different states with different character. Too many people just lump them together. I agree that people should pay attention to where they are; these are two different cities (with different flavors of suburbs, too) and both deserve respect. We never visited the Kansas side so thank you for the "peek". P.S. love your Panda Cam!

  2. Oh I agree with you about the, "different flavors of suburbs, too" comment! Thanks for touching on the Plaza, it is also very important in KC, for it was the first shopping center in the world designed to accommodate shoppers arriving by automobile. Every Thanksgiving, there is a huge ceremony held to "flip the switch" to the 80 miles of holiday lights that decorate the Plaza during the Christmas season.